Pac-12 baseball power rankings
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 02:03
1. No. 3 Oregon State (15-0)
It’s hard to find an argument against putting OSU atop the conference. The Beavers are one of four undefeated teams remaining in the nation, and are the only Pac-12 team currently in the national top 10.
Pitching has made Oregon State exceptional this year. The Beavers lead the nation in earned run average, and it isn’t even close. After 15 games, OSU has a team ERA of 1.19. The second-best team ERA is Dartmouth at 1.67. OSU’s staff is also second in the nation in WHIP (walks plus hits, divided by innings pitched) at 0.90.
And even though OSU head coach Pat Casey hasn’t been satisfied with the offense’s performance at times, the Beavers still rank in the top three in the Pac-12 in nearly every offensive category.
Last week: vs. Texas State (W/W/W)
This week (prediction): vs. San Francisco (W/W), @ Arizona (W/L/W)
2. No. 14 Arizona State (10-2-1)
The Sun Devils, a perennial baseball powerhouse, came in with lower expectations than usual prior to the 2013 season. The Pac-12 preseason coaches poll pegged ASU at sixth in the conference. Understandable, since ASU didn’t make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.
After two questionable early-season losses to Bethune Cookman and Tennessee, The Sun Devils have looked impressive in their current eight-game undefeated streak (tied Gonzaga in a tournament game), which included two wins against Arkansas, a preseason national top-five team.
Last week: vs. Long Beach State (W/W/W)
This week (prediction): vs. New Mexico (W), vs. Washington State (W/W/W)
3. No. 16 Oregon (11-5)
The Ducks do have more losses than the other top teams in the conference, but unlike ASU, Arizona and Stanford, the losses were against quality opponents.
No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 8 Cal State Fullerton each won two games over Oregon. The Ducks did, however, take a game from each of the two, giving the Ducks the most quality wins on their resume in the Pac-12.
Last week: vs. No. 2 Vanderbilt (L/L/W)
This week (prediction): vs. Texas State (W/W), @ USC (W/W/L)
4. No. 11 UCLA (11-3)
Baseball America ranks the Bruins as the second-best team in the conference, but UCLA hasn’t done a good job of impressing anybody.
The only ranked opponent they’ve faced was No. 23 Oklahoma, and the Sooners shut them out. Baylor and Minnesota are UCLA’s other two losses, and while those aren’t bad teams, the Bruins could be 13-0 right now.
But like Oregon State, the Bruins have top-notch pitching (17th nationally in ERA, sixth in WHIP), and are near the top of the Pac-12 in most hitting statistics, as well.
Last week: vs. Notre Dame (W), vs. No. 23 Oklahoma (L), vs. USC (W)
This week (prediction): at CS Northride (W), vs. Washington (W/W/W)
5. Stanford (10-5)
Well, it looks like Mark Appel’s decision to turn down the $3.8 million offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates was a good one. The eighth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft has been lights out in his first four starts this season. Appel has a 1.20 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 43 strikeouts (fifth in the nation) in 30 innings.
But Appel can’t pitch every game. Stanford came in as the No. 1 team in the Pac-12, according to the preseason coaches poll. Everything pointed toward that being the case, as Stanford was No. 13 and 10-2 heading into last weekend.
UNLV came to the Farm and steamrolled the Cardinal in their own ballpark. The Runnin’ Rebels outscored Stanford 20-5 in a three-game sweep, sending Stanford out of the top 25.
To be fair, all five of Stanford’s losses have come to ranked opponents (No. 19 Rice, No. 21 UNLV).
Last week: @ Santa Clara (W), vs. UNLV (L/L/L)
This week (prediction): No games
6. No. 20 Arizona (13-5)
The defending national champions have been underwhelming in defending their title. Arizona’s five losses have all come against unranked opponents (Long Beach State, Utah Valley, San Francisco, Texas Tech, Columbia).
The combined record of those five schools is 30-39. All but Texas Tech have a losing record. And the best stat: Columbia is 1-6 this season, meaning Arizona was its only win.
Last week: vs. Texas Tech (W/L), vs. Columbia (W/L/W)
This week (prediction): vs. Butler (W/W), vs. No. 3 Oregon State (L/W/L)
7. California (9-7)
The good news is Cal knows how to win at home. The Golden Bears are 7-0 when playing in Berkeley, Calif.
This team is much better than their record shows, though. Three losses came against UC Irvine, which just dropped out of the top 25. Three more losses came against Stanford, North Carolina and Rice — all three are currently in the top 25, and UNC is No. 1 in the nation.
Last week: vs. Fresno State (W/W/W/W)
This week (prediction): @ Santa Clara (W), @ Utah (L/W/W)
8. Washington State (9-6)
Based on the numbers, it sounds like something exciting happens in every WSU game. The Cougars are tied for sixth in the nation in home runs (14), are eighth in batting average (.323) and 10th in slugging percentage (.487). They rank first in the Pac-12 for all those stats.